The Gospel in the Regula Benedicti
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The word “Gospel,” or evangelium in Latin, has been a dynamic and ever changing word from the moment it was adopted by Christianity. This study examines the ways that the Regula Benedicti uses evangelium as a metonym, a reference to a text, and a physical object. It employs an interdisciplinary methodology, drawing on textual analysis informed by two closely related material sources. The first is a codicological analysis of the author’s immediate temporal and geographic context, which allows us to imagine in an informed way the Gospels as they would have been held and handled by the author of this text. The second is an artistic analysis of visual representations of the Gospel Codex from around the Mediterranean during Late Antiquity, which helps us expand our understanding of the intellectual categories expressed visually in connection with the term during this period. The result is a complex and deeply intertwined set of categories bound together by their relationship to the texts of the Gospels, and the ways they are translated into the physical reality of the monastery, through the performance of good works and the enactment of the liturgy. The results produced by this textual and material methodology open up exciting potential for further examinations of the term evangelium in Late Antquity, followed by subsequent investigations into other key terms in religious texts from this era.